2013–14 Australian bushfire season

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2013–14 Australian bushfire season
Location Australia
Date(s) Winter (June) 2013 – Autumn (May) 2014
Buildings destroyed 335
Fatalities 3
Injuries (non-fatal) 3

The 2013–14 Australian bushfire season is predicted to have above average fire potential for most states including portions of the north west of Western Australia, the north west of the Northern Territory and large areas of central Queensland following below average rainfall and above average temperatures in these areas in the months leading up to the fire season.[1] The year 2013 was the hottest on record in Australia, with the average temperature from September 2012 to August 2013 being calculated to be 22.9 °C (73 °F) which is 1.1 °C (1.6 °F) higher than the 1961 to 1990 average.[2]

September[edit]

New South Wales

Several bushfires started in New South Wales just outside Sydney on 9 September in one of the earliest starts to a fire season in a many years.[3] One house in Marsden Park was destroyed by the fires and two firefighters were injured while combatting the blaze. Another five firefighters were treated for smoke inhalation as 59 fires burned in Sydney's western suburbs requiring 200 fire engines and 500 fire crew. Several homes and a Western Sydney University campus were evacuated as a result of the fires.[4] By 11 September 60 fires were still burning across the state with 25 remaining uncontained. The Marsden Park fire was under control with fires near Londonderry and Windsor Downs expected to be brought under control the following day.[3]

A bushfire broke out on Barrenjoey headland on 28 September and needed about 80 firefighters and three aircraft to bring it under control. About 60 percent of the headland was lost to the flames but the historic Barrenjoey Head Lighthouse was saved, although the lighthouse cottage sustained some roof damage.[5] Another 60 fires, 20 of which were not contained continued to burn around the state including one at Port Stephens that had threatened homes, another at Shallow Bay that had been burning since 26 September and one south of Taree that had also been contained.

Western Australia

A bushfire emergency warning was issued for the Junjuwa community and the Burawa community in the West Kimberley on 3 September 2013.[6]

Houses on the eastern side of Fitzroy Crossing were evacuated on 18 September when the area was threatened by a bushfire. The Great Northern Highway was also closed while the blaze was brought under control.[7]

October[edit]

New South Wales

The 2013 New South Wales bushfires spread across much of the eastern seaboard of the state on 17 October.[8] Areas affected included the Greater Blue Mountains Area and parts of the Macarthur, Central Coast, and Hunter regions.[9] The fires, attributed to above average temperatures and windy conditions, caused widespread damage to properties. Two fatalities were attributed to the fires; One fatality in the Lake Munmorah area and the second when a pilot was killed when his plane crashed.[10][11] 248 buildings were destroyed,[12] of which 208 were dwellings, and an additional 109 properties were damaged in the Blue Mountains area. 86,000 hectares (212,511 acres) of bushland were burnt.[13][14]

November[edit]

New South Wales

A scrub fire near Milroy, about 15 kilometres (9 mi) from Gunnedah, burnt out over 200 hectares (494 acres) in early November requiring water bomber aircraft to be called in. A grassfire on western outskirts of Sydney near Kemps Creek burned out 250 hectares (618 acres).[15]

Western Australia

A small number of fires started in early November around Manjimup. One fire in the Dingup State Forest threatened homes and burned through 10 hectares (25 acres) before being brought under control.[16]

December[edit]

South Australia

High temperatures and strong winds lead to a bushfire near Tintinara to burn out of control. Over 1,000 hectares (2,471 acres) of grassland was consumed by the blaze and a hay shed was destroyed.[17]

Western Australia

Over 100 firefighters were required to combat an out of control bushfire near Toodyay on 14 December. Three helitacks and two fixed wing water bombers were called into assist as the fire burned its way through over 50 hectares (124 acres) and threatened homes.[18] The hills area of Perth was also badly affected by a bushfire which began in Parkerville and moved through Stoneville and headed towards Mount Helena. Residents had to be evacuated and many homes were lost. This bushfire was believed to have originated on the land of one Parkerville resident. Residents are now returning to assess the damage to their properties.[19]

January[edit]

New South Wales

Over 50 fires started in New South Wales on January 17 from lightning strikes. The fires continued to burn until January 19th under extreme conditions. The communities of Humula, Carabost, Little Billabong and Minninbah received emergency warnings for fires burning out of control. Over 8,000 hectares (19,768 acres) were lost to the fire. Another fire near Bathurst burned through 300 hectares (741 acres) of pint forest. Fires near Minjary claimed over 2,675 hectares (6,610 acres) of scrubland.[20]

Queensland

Over 8,500 hectares (21,004 acres) of bushland was burnt out on Stradbroke Island by a bushfire that started on January 4th. Over 90 firefighters were needed to bring the blaze under control which threatened homes and resulted in 50 people being evacuated from Myora.[21]

South Australia

Over 24,000 hectares (59,305 acres) of scrub and grassland and seven homes were lost to fires that started burning 17 January in the Barossa Valley between Eden Valley and Truro. Another fire started in the Flinders Ranges near Bangor on the same date which burned through 19,000 hectares (46,950 acres) of forested and grassed areas and destroyed six houses. More fires in the state included one near Billiatt where two homes were lost and 92,000 hectares (227,337 acres) of the Billiatt Conservation Park were burned and another near Ngarkat where 71,000 hectares (175,445 acres) of grass and scrub were burned.[22]

Victoria

A fire started as a result of lightning strikes in the northern Grampians National Park on 15 January. Extreme fire conditions on 17 January saw the fire grow in size to over 50,000 hectares (123,553 acres). The fire was bought under control on 18 January.[23][24][25] By the time the fire was contained on 20 January, it had burnt out 55,000 hectares (135,908 acres) hectares.[26] The estimated losses included 90 structures, 32 homes and 3000 sheep.[26]

Western Australia

A bushfire burning in the Mount Roe National Park, north of Denmark, burned through over 13,300 hectares (32,865 acres) and required over 100 firefighters to bring it under control. The fire began under suspicious circumstances on 4 January, smoke from the fire blanketed Perth over 500 kilometres (311 mi) to the north.[27]

More fires started burning after two days of temperatures in excess of 40 °C (104 °F) in the Perth Hills area on 12 January. A man died while attempting to save his house from the flames and another man was seriously injured when he fell from the roof of his house. 52[28] homes were lost as fires raced through properties in Parkerville, Stoneville and Mount Helena.[29][30] Over 650 hectares (1,606 acres) of bush were burnt in the Parkerville blaze with over 400 hectares (988 acres) in the Mundaring fire.

February[edit]

South Australia

On Saturday 8 February firefighters fought blazes in Belair National Park and at Bangor. A catastrophic fire warning was issued for the Mount Lofty Ranges, Yorke Peninsula and lower Eyre Peninsula. All other districts had extreme and severe warnings.[31]

As of 10 February 2014 the Bangor fire has been burning for almost a month. It had burned 33,000 hectares (82,000 acres) of scrub land and was burning uncontrolled on a 14 kilometres (8.7 mi) front.[32]

Victoria

On Sunday 9 February more than a dozen fires were burning out of control during "a weekend of extreme weather conditions." There was both a health warning due to the heat and a total fire ban across Victoria.[31] The temperature in Melbourne reached 39.2C before midday.[33] Weather forecasters and emergency officials stated that they were the worst fire conditions since the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.[34]

At Warrandyte, an outer suburb of Melbourne two homes were destroyed.[33]

On Tuesday, 11 February firefighting efforts were concentrated on a fire at Mickleham that had burned 40,000 hectares (99,000 acres) and destroyed many homes.[35] More homes were destroyed overnight and at least 21 had been burnt out since Saturday, 8 February. The Age newspaper reported "Seven in Kilmore; four in Mickleham, Victoria; three in Warrandyte; two in Wunghnu; two in Glenaladale; and one each in Beveridge, Yarram and Walpa."[36] Another 30 may have been destroyed, but are not confirmed.[36]

The other fire of great concern was at the Hazelwood Power Station coal mine, near Morwell in the Latrobe Valley with fears that Victoria's electricity generation capacity could be affected. The coal dredgers and conveyor belts feeding the coal-fired generators were damaged by fire and shut down, but power to them was later restored.[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Northern Australian seasonal bushfire outlook 2013". Bushfire CRC. 2013. Retrieved 7 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "Australia has warmest year on record: BoM". 9 News. Ninemsn. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  3. ^ a b "NSW braces for tough bushfire season after yesterday's early outbreaks". The Australian. News Limited. 11 September 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Evacuations as bushfires in Sydney's west engulf homes". The Australian. News Limited. 10 September 2013. Retrieved 10 September 2013. 
  5. ^ "Lighthouse saved from Sydney bushfire". Ninemsn. 28 September 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  6. ^ "Bushfire threat to Junjuwa community at Fitzroy Crossing". News Limited. 3 September 2013. Retrieved 3 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Bushfire advice for the eastern part of Fitzroy Crossing". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "Bushfires in NSW 'worst in more than a decade'". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  9. ^ "'Miracle' if lives not lost in NSW fires: premier". The Australian. Retrieved 17 October 2013. 
  10. ^ "Lake Munmorah bushfire victim Walter Linder died defending home". Australia: ABC News. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  11. ^ Browne, Rachel. "Aircraft fighting NSW bushfire crashes, pilot killed". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 24 October 2013. 
  12. ^ "Update – Damage assessment and fire investigation" (PDF) (Press release). New South Wales Rural Fire Service. 19 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013. 
  13. ^ "Watch and Act - Linksview Road Fire, Springwood (Blue Mountains) 19/10/13 11:40". New South Wales Rural Fire Service. 19 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013. 
  14. ^ "Initial assessment of Winmalee and Springwood areas". New South Wales Rural Fire Service. 18 September 2013. Retrieved 18 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "NSW fires flare up in Kemps Creek, moving towards Cecil Hills, Rural Fire Service says". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 9 November 2013. Retrieved 8 November 2013. 
  16. ^ "Firefighters battling blazes around Manjimup". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 5 November 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  17. ^ "SA firefighters contain blaze near Tintinara; wild winds cause damage elsewhere". Yahoo7. 21 December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  18. ^ "Out-of-control fire threatens homes". The West Australian. Yahoo7. 15 December 2013. Retrieved 23 December 2013. 
  19. ^ ABC News. "Perth Hills residents to visit homes destroyed by bushfire". Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  20. ^ "NSW properties under threat from fire". The West Australian. Yahoo7. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  21. ^ "Stradbroke Island bushfire: residents remain on fire alert as warning downgraded". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 6 January 2014. Retrieved 8 January 2014. 
  22. ^ "Huge bushfires in South Australia destroy at least 15 properties during extreme weather". The Advertiser. News Limited. 19 January 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  23. ^ "Grampians fire update - 18 Jan". Country Fire Authority. 18 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "Fire threat eases as crews continue to battle Grampians blaze". The Age. 18 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Bushfires flare in NSW as firefighters get upper hand in Victoria and South Australia". ABC News. 19 January 2014. 
  26. ^ a b "Grampians blaze claims more homes than previously thought". ABC News. 22 January 2014. Retrieved 22 January 2014. 
  27. ^ Robyn Preston (5 January 2014). "Suspicious Denmark fire causes smoke haze across Perth". WA Today. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 7 January 2014. 
  28. ^ "Residents begin to return home after 52 properties lost to Perth Hills fire". PerthNow. News Limited. 16 January 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  29. ^ "One dead, 27 homes lost in Shire of Mundaring bushfires". WA Today. Fairfax Media. 13 January 2014. Retrieved 13 January 2013. 
  30. ^ "Crews save hundreds more Perth Hills homes from destruction". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  31. ^ a b "Firefighters tackle blazes in South Australia and Victoria as extreme weather conditions take hold". ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation-Abc.net.au). 9 February 2014. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  32. ^ http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-10/worsening-weather-forecast-worries-bangor-bushfire-crews/5248882?section=sa
  33. ^ a b Staff (9 February 2014). "Victoria bushfire watch: CFA battles firefronts across the state". Herald-Sun. Retrieved 9 February 2014. 
  34. ^ http://www.theage.com.au/environment/weather/worst-threat-to-state-since-black-saturday-20140208-328ja.html
  35. ^ a b http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-11/fire-crews-battle-to-gain-upper-hand-on-victorian-blazes/5251036
  36. ^ a b http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/victorian-bushfires-wallan-kilmore-darraweit-guim-remain-under-threat-20140211-32diu.html